Art by Maira Kalman
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Curriculum subjects: Character Development, Peer Groups/Popularity/Cliques, Relationships/Sexuality
Grade: 10 & up
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I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
A 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
An ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book
★ “A bittersweet diatribe of their break-up arranged around objects….all the more powerful because of how they evoke truth more than any mere relaying of facts.” — Booklist, starred review
★ “Handler is at his best when he’s creating verbal collages of ordinary, recognizable high-school moments….Like the perfect breakup song, this turns the searing experience of losing your heart into a cathartic work of art.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
★ “Kalman’s spare illustrations of the objects heighten the overall enjoyment and perfectly complement Handler’s accomplished prose.” — The Horn Book, starred review
★ “As objects from the box are revealed in Kalman’s vividly rendered paintings, readers are taken beneath the surface of what will no doubt be one of the most talked-about romances in teen literature….A poignant, exhilarating tale of a love affair gone to the dogs.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ “Handler shows exceptional skill at getting inside Min’s head and heart…lending real pathos to Min’s memorabilia and making her sorrow all the more palpable.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “Characters are vivid, and their portrayal is enriched by realistic dialogue….Hander offers a heartbreaking, bittersweet, and compelling romance with a unique angle and flare.” — School Library Journal, starred review